Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

OMEN by HP and FACEIT have announced the OMEN UK Open—a new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament set to run from next month through November, 2018. The UK-exclusive contest promises a total prize pool of $30,000, with $12,500 of that in cash and $17,500 of OMEN by HP hardware. 

Qualifiers kick off on April 15 and are open to teams and solo players alike. The opening stage is split into eight preliminary rounds, followed by a two-month league, and wrapped up by open finals on November 17 and 18. The tourney in its entirety will be broadcast on the OMEN by HP Europe Twitch channel.

Further to the competition itself, OMEN by HP will also run the OMEN UK Open Community Caster Challenge—an initiative that gives talented commentators the chance to win $2,500 worth of OMEN by HP products, and the potential opportunity to cast the OMEN UK Open Final.  

"With the launch of the OMEN UK Open, HP is celebrating the competitive spirit that drives grassroot gamers across Britain," says George Brasher, UK and Ireland MD at HP, in a statement. "We know that enthusiast gamers need the best equipment and competitions to reach their goals and showcase their talent. The OMEN UK Open is a unique opportunity for HP to provide this platform and support the expansive UK CS:GO community—a passionate group of gaming fans at the very heart of esports."

The Omen UK Open qualifiers begin on April 15, and the tournament will conclude with Finals on November 17 and 18, 2018. More information on all of the above can be found here, while those interested in Community Caster Challenge sign ups should head in this direction.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - (Alice O'Connor)

Valve are again tinkering with the Negev light machine gun in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, trying to find its role as a support weapon. The changes are relatively minor on the scale of things, but I’m still fascinated by the fact that CS has held basically the same form for almost 19 years yet the developers are still tinkering with fine details. Samuel Horti was jolly excited when the initial Negev rework in 2017 turned a joke gun into a murderous bullet beam intended to deny areas to enemies, but the devs are not quite happy with its suppressive fire. And so, changes! (more…)

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - (Alice O'Connor)

John is elsewhere this week, squeezed into Brendan’s luggage for a flight to San Francisco and the Game Developers Conference, so I’m here for the regular rundown of last week’s top-selling games on Steam. This week, the letters R, A, and S are well-represented with strong showings from both Mars and rats.


Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - (Matt Cox)


If you haven’t heard of the Saxxy Awards, then you’ve been missing out. It’s an annual Source Filmmaker competition orchestrated by Valve, and I reckon this year has a particularly strong crop of nominees. The official winners will be announced later today, but who cares about that? I’ve saved Valve the trouble and already picked out the best ones below.


Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - (Brendan Caldwell)


Greetings, readers. John, your regular guide to this hollow summary of ceaseless material consumption, is missing. We presume he has angered the company overlords with some sort of ill-judged diatribe against corporate consolidation, and has subsequently been reassigned to another media outlet, possibly The Re-education Supplement, or Gulag’s Weekly. Well, you won’t find any such insubordination from me. I have only the purest intentions of telling you the top ten best sellers on Steam this week, with a secondary goal of reinforcing the cold emptiness of our predominant mercantile culture. Let’s buy some games! (more…)

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

If you're ever having a hard time retaking B on Inferno, just build a better sightline. Created by Kinsi55, creator of CS:GO battle royale mod Go 4 The Kill, this mod demonstrates what CS:GO would play like if you could build ramps and platforms as readily as you can in Fortnite Battle Royale. 

The result is both cathartic and extremely stupid, a strange shooter hybrid baby that combines one of the most hardcore point-and-click skill tests with the goofiest and most accessible battle royale game out there. Kinsi55 doesn't plan on a public release though; they say CS:GO's skyboxes are so small and buggy that most people would just get stuck, but I'll hold out hope yet. Gun game with fort-building sounds like a dream to me. 

Half-Life 2

Gabe Newell gives a presentation at Valve about upcoming card game Artifact.

At a presentation for upcoming Dota 2-themed card game Artifact at Valve's offices in Bellevue, Washington today, Gabe Newell reiterated that Valve is getting back into developing new games beyond its current roster of multiplayer titles. After talking about Valve's focus on Steam and hardware during the past several years, which he described as "an investment in the future", Newell said "Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that's sort of good news. Hooray! Valve's going to start shipping games again."

That's games, plural: Artifact isn't the only game Valve is working on. In a January 2017 Reddit AMA, Newell did confirm that Valve was working on at least one fully-fledged singleplayer game. And the following month, in roundtable interviews with PC Gamer, Newell said that Valve was working on "three big VR games." Today's statement doesn't make it 100 percent clear whether Valve has projects in development beyond these previously mentioned games, but it is a possibility. "We aren't going to be talking about it today," Newell said, "but sort of the big thing, the new arrow we have in our quiver, really, is our ability to develop hardware and software simultaneously."

Newell gave some background on Valve's projects from the last few years, like SteamVR and the Vive headset, explaining that the company was worried about the PC heading in the direction of an iPhone-esque closed ecosystem. "You can see that Microsoft was like, wow, how can we make Windows more like that? Or Zuckerberg is saying, 'well I tried to compete in the phones, I got my ass kicked, so I'm going to create this new thing, VR, which will allow me to recreate the kind of closed, high margin ecosystem that Apple's done.' And that really started to worry us, because we thought that the strength of the PC is about its openness … So we started to make some investments to offset that."

"We've always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo."

Gabe Newell

Those investments, Newell said, meant they hadn't released a new game since Dota 2—but that work wasn't wasted time. "The positive thing about the Vive is, in addition to making sure that nobody created an iOS closed platform for it, was also that it gave us the opportunity to develop our in-house expertise in hardware design. Five years ago, we didn't have electrical engineers and people who know how to do robots. Now there's pretty much no project in the hardware space that we wouldn't be comfortable taking on. We can design chips if we need to, we can do industrial design, and so on. So that added to that."

With Valve's new hardware chops, it seems like we can expect more than new games from the company. "We've always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo," Newell said. "When Miyamoto is sitting down and thinking about the next version of Zelda or Mario, he's thinking what is the controller going to look like, what sort of graphics and other capabilities. He can introduce new capabilities like motion input because he controls both of those things. And he can make the hardware look as good as possible because he's designing the software at the same time that's really going to take advantage of it. So that is something we've been jealous of, and that's something that you'll see us taking advantage of subsequently."

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

I have no idea how dunking a bunch of 20-somethings in a hole in a frozen lake helps pro esports organisation Fnatic find a new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive academy team, nor how watching a largely unfit group tackle a kind of special ops obstacle course helps their cause, but it's cringingly fun to watch. And that, I suppose, is what Season 2 of CSGO reality show Gamerz is all about.

Gamerz whittles CSGO applications from all over Europe (this is the Euro edition) into two teams of six players, then moves them into a house together for 20 days, and peppers them with various challenges in addition to playing the game. Over the course of the show, underperforming players will be turfed out and replaced by new challengers entering the fray.

There's a new episode every day, in addition to live lunchtime practices, and Episode 3 airs today. Episode 1 follows the gang, which includes two UK players - ardiis and neph - as they meet each other, do the military exercises mentioned above, and settle into their new house. It's all a bit contrived and awkward, naturally, but settles in Episode 2 when the two fresh teams get down to business in a best of 30 CSGO match.

Read more…

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - (John Walker)

Some Monday mornings, as I plonk myself down at my desk at 6.50am and load the RSS feed for the Steam Charts, I think to myself: you know what? There are so many other things I’d like to write about today. Anyway, here are the top ten games on Steam from the last week.


Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

The group stages of CS:GO's portion of the Intel Extreme Masters at Katowice 2018 are underway.  

Running today in Poland's Spodek Arena, the first of Group A's matches—SK Gaming vs Avangar, and Renegades vs Astralis, the latter of which, at the time of writing, can be viewed here—are set to wrap up after 1pm GMT, with Group B's ties to follow. I don't know enough about the CS:GO esports scene to pass judgement/back a potential winner, but Ninjas in Pyjamas is some top tier team naming. I'm rooting for them. 

Group stages run through March 1, with playoffs on March 2, playoff semi finals on March, and the competition's grand final on Sunday, March 4 at 4pm GMT/8am PT. Here's a look at the prize pool:

A full streaming schedule for all of that can be found here, as can more information on the event's format. 

Elsewhere at Katowice 2018, PUBG and Dota 2 held their respective run-ins last weekend—marking Dota 2's first Polish major—whereas Starcraft 2 started its initial rounds of 76 yesterday. More details on those can be found here and here and here.   


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